THE embattled business trade body the CBI is expected to lay out a series of measures today which it hopes will allow it to put a sexual harassment scandal behind it.
The CBI, Britain’s biggest business trade body and for decades a mouthpiece for the country’s largest businesses, has been hit with a wave of accusations in recent months which have resulted in the ouster of director general Tony Danker, a whole host of members bailing on their memberships, and the temporary suspension of their engagement with government.
The accusations include two rape allegations and a host of other allegations of unwanted sexual advances.
City sources suggest the CBI has been undertaking a “listening” exercise with members in recent weeks, with a new head of culture recruited in an effort to turn around the culture at the umbrella body.
Yesterday it was revealed that the CBI has taken legal advice on insolvency options, should members not be able to back the organisation in a crunch vote next week.
Sky News’ Mark Kleinman reported that the organisation had sought advice beyond its usual law firm, Clarkslegal, as well as Fox Williams, which conducted a root-and-branch review
of the CBI’s response to internal allegations.
That report concluded that senior staff dealt appropriately with allegations that they were made aware of.
Nonetheless a whole host of Britain’s largest corporates pulled their membership, including EY, Kingfisher
and Aviva. Others, from Lloyds Bank to Mastercard to Uber, elected to suspend their membership until the CBI had got its house in order.
One City source said a number of corporates were viewing the vote on June 6 as ‘D-Day’ and would make decisions about restarting – or ending – their membership after the CBI’s presentation.
The organisation’s finances will be under significant pressure if further blue-chip members, which pay the highest fees, pull out of the body.
A CBI spokes person said “following a series of member resignations, we know that the CBI will need to be smaller and refocused in the future. The Board has sought advice on matters of restructuring as may be appropriate, as any responsible board would.”
Whilst the CBI has suspended its lobbying activity, other bodies have been jockeying for position to replace the organisation.
The consultancy WPI Strategy, which is behind the nascent business grouping BizUK, has recently hired Keir Starmer’s former policy director Claire Ainsley with a view to expanding the work of BizUK over the coming months, City A.M. understands.